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Magistrate Criticizes U.S. Consul on Passport Issue

February 15, 1988

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ A senior magistrate on Monday criticized the U.S. Consulate for granting a new passport to an American who faces drug charges.

″It is hard to imagine a greater act of irresponsibility by a foreign official,″ said Deputy Chief Magistrate Bruce Brown at Sydney’s Central Local Court.

Brown heard that Richard Stephen Rotaru, a 30-year-old law student from Cleveland who is charged with possessing and supplying cocaine, was issued a new passport by the consulate after his application for the return of his old one was refused.

Rotaru was arrested again during the weekend by an off-duty detective who recognized him as they were boarding a flight bound for Honolulu.

After his arrest Jan. 20, he was released on bail, which included the surrrender of his passport. He applied for its return on Feb. 5, but was refused.

Prosecutor Sgt. Ron Broadhead told the court the U.S. Consulate then granted Rotaru’s request for a new one.

Rotaru’s lawyer said his client believed he was within his rights in using the passport, thinking he was acting under the direction of U.S. officials.

Rotaru was ordered to appear to in the Central Court on Feb. 22.